Unexpected Challenges During My First Historically Black Colleges and Universities Outreach Tour

By Jamila Alfred, VO Maryland/DC Events and Outreach Coordinator

Jamila Alfred and Kayla Malveaux
Jamila Alfred and Kayla Malveaux

As the first black outreach coordinator, hired to help with Vegan Outreach’s focus on diversity and inclusion, I was extremely excited, yet nervous, for my first college leafleting tour.

Much to my delight, I was assigned to leaflet at historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) across the Southeast. I knew I would be perfect for the job.

I graduated from an HBCU—Bowie State University—last spring. I understand the importance of attending educational institutions where you’re surrounded by people who want you to succeed, especially because of the color of your skin.

Although I was a commuter and didn’t participate in many social activities on campus, the sense of community in my learning environment definitely pushed me to excel. Now, I want to return the love I received from my people to others beyond my school.

When I graduated I promised myself I wouldn’t take a job until I found the career of my dreams—spreading the vegan message to my brothers and sisters.

I’m now living my dream.

HBCU-1

Students Morgan State

The first leafletings I did at HBCUs in Maryland and DC went smoothly since I was still in my bubble and understood local customs. As I moved south, the sizes of these institutions got smaller and smaller and were in more isolated areas.

Outside of these schools, in their respective towns, I couldn’t help but notice the curious stares and the Confederate flags. I didn’t want to think much about it because I was on a mission and didn’t want any concern to sink in on this grassroots expedition, but let’s just say these places were probably not the best place for a black woman with locs to be at night.

While having a lot of fun, the trip took an ugly turn when my car broke down in Smithfield, NC. This is when I truly realized I was no longer home.

The stares and tensions were menacing as I walked about in a shopping center, desperate to find vegan food. Luckily I was able to find some, but with rude customer service. After a very expensive and time-consuming repair to my vehicle, I rushed out of that town so fast. I was emotionally exhausted.

That experience lingered with me the rest of the week until my car broke down again in rural Albany, GA. Luckily, my car had enough life to get me to a nearby gas station, but the gawks from white townsfolk intimidated me.

Determined to have my car fixed, I walked up to the only friendly face in the area who just so happened to be a black man. He directed me to a nearby tire shop where the front desk workers were white and the car repair employees were black. That wouldn’t have been a weird coincidence if the man at the front desk didn’t go out of his way to not look me in the eye while speaking to me, or if one of the women didn’t look square at my name on my ID and call me “Jamaica.” I wasn’t amused.

After this, my trip got better, but I continued to feel like I was different from what is preferable. It wasn’t until my first day leafleting in Atlanta, GA when the stress from my car issues completely melted away. A big thank you to Muki Pederson and her husband for treating me like a princess! I was able to fully relax thanks to their warm hospitality.

Just being in the Atlanta area for a few days made me feel a sense of community with my brothers and sisters—from the schools I leafleted to the city streets. And did I mention the food was fantastic? Every restaurant I dined at was black-owned, scrumptious, and oh-so easy to find.

HBCU-3

Kayla Malveaux

Unfortunately, I had to end my tour almost two weeks early. I was truly looking forward to finishing this trip with a bang—which I totally did in Atlanta—but the obvious risks, along with racial tensions in the South with the upcoming election, became an inevitable issue.

Although there’s many things I’d do differently about this tour, I’m proud of my courage for speaking up for the animals despite safety risks, especially as someone who’s new to leafleting. I proved to myself that I’m capable of anything and won’t allow racial intimidation to deter me from including the black community in the vegan movement. No one can stop me!

After I returned home, I went straight to working on local community engagement projects. The goal is to create new support systems for people of color who want to go vegan. People of color are typically left out of the equation when it comes to helping people transition to a vegan lifestyle, which is shameful because veganism benefits everyone.

Along with that, my goal is to build a community for vegans who are struggling with the lifestyle. It’s quite common that many vegans experience recidivism in their journeys, and I’ll make it my business to help them stay put.

The trip was a learning experience for Vegan Outreach as well as myself. I had to drive through unfriendly rural areas where the typical white male leafleter would have been safe. As a queer, black woman traveling alone, the threat of a racially-based attack was all too real. And in some places, I could feel that I was not welcomed.

Becoming a more diverse organization means learning, listening, and making adjustments. Campaigns involving one type of employee might not be effective, or even safe. Therefore, Vegan Outreach has decided that in the future I’ll have an intern with me for all of my touring.

We’re excited for my 2017 outreach! Please contact me at Jamila@VeganOutreach.org if you’re interested in accompanying me on my tour!


Canada Holiday Outreach

By Jevranne Martel, VO Canada Outreach Coordinator

Michelle Thorn, Zoe Bishop, Jevranne Martel, Beccah Ellis, and Edelweiss D'Andrea
Michelle Thorn, Zoe Bishop, Jevranne Martel, Beccah Ellis, and Edelweiss D’Andrea

Over the winter break I went out with a few friends and leafleted on a few different occasions. Being that it was the holiday shopping season, we took advantage of the busy shopping crowds and leafleted in Ottawa, ON. We leafleted at Hudson’s Bay—a Canadian department store—and at the Mackenzie King and South Keys transit stations.

The experiences were all very positive and we got a lot of support. The crowds were great and positive conversations were generated in multiple instances. The best part was seeing how many people were curious about making more compassionate changes in 2017!

Jev Martel

Beccah Ellis


Snickerdoodles

By Lauren Sprang, VO Board of Directors Secretary

snickerdoodle

Last winter my husband, Steve, had a craving for snickerdoodles and wondered how easy it was to make them vegan.

After looking through cookbooks and websites he found a recipe online, and with a few tweaks he perfected his own version. Thankfully, this winter we had the excuse of a vegan potluck to make them again.

The dough in this recipe is pliable and easy to roll into balls for a dusting of cinnamon and sugar. Hint: It’s good for taste testing as well!

For the cookie sheet, he molded them into balls using a 1 tablespoon measuring spoon. And once in the oven they spread out quite nicely.

Snickerdoodle Dough

Snickerdoodle Sheet

Snickerdoodle Oven

Near the end of the cooking time, he checked the bottoms to make sure they were firm enough and put them in for an extra minute.

When complete, I couldn’t believe the taste and texture. I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we have!

Snickerdoodle Bottoms

Single Snickerdoodle

Snickerdoodles

Yields 24 cookies.

Ingredients

Dry

  • 1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup tapioca flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder (2 teaspoons if it’s not new)
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar (absolutely necessary)
  • Wet

    • 1 stick (4 oz) margarine, softened
    • ¾ cup sugar
    • ¼ cup soy milk
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

    Cinnamon Sugar

    • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
    • 3 tablespoons sugar

    Directions

    1. Preheat oven to 350°F and prepare a baking sheet with wax paper or cooking spray. For a convection oven, preheat to 340°F.
    2. In a large bowl whisk together the dry ingredients.
    3. For the wet ingredients, beat the margarine with a mixer until soft. Add the sugar and beat until fluffy. Add the soy milk and vanilla extract, and beat for another 30 seconds.
    4. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and carefully beat with the electric mixer for 30 seconds.
    5. On a large plate, combine the cinnamon and sugar.
    6. Form the dough into 1″ balls and roll in the cinnamon sugar.
    7. Place 1 ½” apart on the baking sheet.
    8. Bake for 10-12 minutes for softer cookies and 14 minutes for firmer cookies. They should be dry on the top and lightly browned on the bottom. Hint: We baked for 14 minutes for a bit of a firm shell and a soft inner cookie (also, we live at 3,600 feet elevation).
    9. Cool on a wire rack. Enjoy!

    Holiday Outreach

    By Jennifer Mennuti, VO Volunteer

    Holiday Outreach
    Jennifer Mennuti, Elyssa Diehl, and Ela Fridman”

    Sometimes, it’s a little challenging to get into the holiday spirit in South Florida while it’s 80°F outside. People here do their best, though! They string lights around their palm trees and display inflatable snowmen in their yards.

    Many cities in South Florida host holiday parades and other festive events, and Vegan Outreach volunteers had great success leafleting the festive crowds this year!

    First, on November 29, a few volunteers and I attended an event in Fort Lauderdale called Christmas on Las Olas. At this event, snow is trucked in to create a small mountain for kids to play on, there are bands and choirs performing, and holiday movie screenings.

    Christmas on Las Olas attracts 40,000 people—needles to say, it was a crowded event. Despite all the activity, we dispersed 250 pro-veg booklets!

    Then, on December 7, we leafleted at a holiday parade in the city of Boca Raton. I met up with new and veteran leafleters, and we handed out 500 Compassionate Choices booklets!

    This holiday parade was the ideal leafleting event. We arrived about an hour before the parade began and approached people from the street as they were sitting along the sidewalk waiting for the parade to begin. Once the parade started, the street was blocked, so we handed off booklets to the spectators from behind.

    Both events were a lot of fun and offered great opportunities for a little activism!

    And for those of you who leaflet college campuses regularly, this is a great way to supplement your activism in between semesters!

    If leafleting at a holiday event interests you, I recommend arriving early, wearing festive attire, and smiling a lot! People will probably be more likely to take a leaflet if you say something related to the holiday. For example, at these events we said, “Happy Holidays!”

    With many cities and towns worldwide hosting holiday-themed events—whether it’s the winter holidays or Independence Day festivities—it’s an effective way to spread compassion to a lot of people!

    If you don’t have leaflets but are feeling inspired, don’t worry! Vegan Outreach has you covered! Place your order for booklets here. And for a few quick and easy leafleting tips, check this out—you’ll be leafleting like a pro in no time!


    EggNog French Toast with Vegan Scrambled Eggs

    By Jamila Alfred, VO Maryland/DC Events and Outreach Coordinator

    French Toast and Vegan Eggs

    Try these two scrumptious, festive recipes separately or together for a breakfast worth celebrating!

    EggNog French Toast with Vegan Scrambled Eggs

    Yields 6 servings.

    Ingredients

    French Toast

    • 1 loaf of bread
    • 5-7 tablespoons Follow Your Heart’s VeganEgg
    • 2 ½ cups ice cold vegan “eggnog” (I used So Delicious’ Holiday Nog)
    • ½ cup brown sugar
    • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
    • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

    Scrambled Eggs

    • 1 teaspoon vegan butter (enough to lightly oil pan)
    • 2 level tablespoons Follow Your Heart’s VeganEgg
    • ½ cup ice cold water

    Directions

    French Toast

    1. Slice the bread and lay it out on a glass baking pan. In a large bowl mix the VeganEgg with the cold eggnog and whisk together to remove any clumps. Add the rest of the ingredients, combine, then pour over the bread. Cover the tray and store in the fridge overnight. Rotate the slices midway during storage time to ensure an even coat.
    2. When ready, remove and cook in a pan over medium heat. Serve hot, top with syrup, and powdered sugar as desired.

    Scrambled Eggs

    1. Melt vegan butter in a pre-heated medium-sized skillet set to medium-high heat.
    2. Whisk or blend “egg” ingredients until smooth.
    3. Pour mixture into skillet (“egg” should sizzle in pan) and immediately begin to scramble.
    4. Scramble frequently and evenly with a spatula until eggs are firm.
    5. VeganEgg takes longer to cook than regular eggs—Follow Your Heart recommends 6-8 minutes or until fully cooked.

    Recipe Variations

    • To make the scrambled eggs extra tasty, try dicing a few of your favorite spices, onions, and bell peppers—add the veggies and spices as the scramble firms.

    The Eggnog French Toast recipe is an original of Gabrielle St. Claire at Eat Drink Shrink.

    The scrambled egg directions are the original for Follow Your Heart’s VeganEgg.


    Compassionate Holiday Meal in Alamogordo, NM

    By Victor Flores and Karla Reyes, VO Volunteers

    Towards the end of November, my family and I had the pleasure of speaking to a group of veg-curious folks at a church in Inglewood, CA—the experience was amazing!

    In the works was a similar gathering, near our home, in the rural town of Alamogordo, NM. Within a few short weeks, my family and I—with the help of  Vegan Outreach and members of Otero Veg, our hometown Vegetarian/Vegan Meetup group—planned a holiday gathering to inform community members about the joy of living a compassionate lifestyle.

    Alamogordo Event

    Alamogordo Event
    Attendees Mingling and Having a Good Time

    We offered a great holiday meal, personal testimonials, and we showed an informative video by Dr. Michael Greger, vegan physician and author of How Not to Die. We discussed the cruelty inherent in animal agriculture and the impact of animal product consumption on our health and on the environment.

    We also had the iAnimal Virtual Reality headsets available for people to view, which gave viewers the opportunity to experience what happens inside of a pig slaughterhouse.

    Our expectations for a positive response went far beyond what we ever could’ve expected! We had to keep restocking the information table we’d piled high with Vegan Outreach literature. Everyone was receptive and engaged—you could feel the positive vibe in the room!

    Alamogordo Presenter
    Kathrin Schoos Sharing Her Personal Vegan Story
    Alamogordo Event Serving Food
    Serving the Holiday Meal
    Lit Table
    Literature Table and Goodie Bags

    Oh, and the tasty desserts didn’t hurt—vegan cupcakes, cinnamon rolls, and Mexican sweet bread. The vegan nog and coffee with almond milk creamer was also a huge hit. We even had chocolate soy milk for the kids!

    Everyone enjoyed the holiday roasts, which we ended up having to drive over 6 hours to pick up the day before the event. We also had mashed potatoes with gravy, cornbread stuffing, corn, green chili mac and cheese, and an excellent green bean casserole.

    Nog, Coffee Creamer, Cupcakes, and Cinnamon Rolls
    Vegan Nog, Coffee Creamer, Cupcakes, and Cinnamon Rolls
    Cornbread Stuffing and Vegan Mac and Cheese
    Cornbread Stuffing and Vegan Mac and Cheese
    Vegan Mashed Potatoes and Gravy
    Vegan Mashed Potatoes and Gravy

    By the end of the night, attendees were asking where they could buy vegan food products, how to best prepare them, and how to maintain a vegan lifestyle. We gave away goodie bags packed with vegan treats and coupons for different types of vegan foods. Many attendees requested to stay in touch so they could ask questions and get support if needed. And we heard many people say they’re excited about future events because they want to bring their friends and family members.

    Alamogordo Attendees
    Veg-Curious Attendees

    Reflecting back, it was such a powerful event! There’s no doubt in our mind that this is an effective way of doing outreach for our communities. We’ve even heard from people who live in larger, nearby cities, like El Paso, TX and Las Cruces, NM, who want us to do events like this in their areas!

    Thank you to Kristina Marzano, Kathrin Schoos, and Amy Dame for volunteering to share their personal vegan stories. Such a big inspiration! And thank you to Vivian Nevarez and Jesus Loya for making the delicious vegan treats!

    A big shout out to Janina Rojas, Silva, Kathrin Schoos, and Leanne Smith for helping serve the delicious meal. Thanks again to Vegan Outreach, Otero Veg, Flowers for Animals, and everyone else that made this event a success!

    2017 better be ready because we are coming in strong……Vegan Strong!


    Jan ’17: WarblerGarb Herbivore Dino T-Shirt Giveaway

    By Lori Stultz, VO Communications Manager

    Merry/happy post-holiday season, everyone! And a very Happy New Year!

    Let’s get 2017 started off right with a fun and exciting giveaway—this adorable Herbivore Dino t-shirt from WarblerGarb.

    WarblerGarb T-Shirt Image

    WarblerGarb is a new, Pennsylvania-based vegan t-shirt company “with a mission to spread the vegan message to as many corners of the Earth as possible.”

    And the team at WarblerGarb believes in spreading the message via eye-catching and thought-provoking apparel—and who could disagree with that strategy?

    It’s not a secret that we tend to take notice of other people’s clothing. For me personally, my Vegan Outreach t-shirt—and the various other animal-related t-shirts I own—never fail to lead to an informative conversation with veg-curious people.

    And like other vegan companies we’ve partnered with in the past, WarblerGarb’s products are American-made and produced with earth-friendly materials in an eco-conscious facility. You can get those details here.

    Enter now! This giveaway starts today, January 6, and ends Sunday, January 15 at 12:00 am North American MST. We’ll announce the lucky winner on Friday, January 20 right here on Vegan Outreach’s Vegan Living and Advocacy Blog!

    Herbivore Dino T-Shirt Giveaway


    Cheesy Breakfast Hash

    By Lisa Rimmert, VO Director of Development

    Quorn, a readily available vegetarian meat substitute is now offering vegan versions of their popular meat-free products!

    Having tried my share of vegan meats, I can easily say Quorn’s measure up! The texture is spot on—not too chewy, not too tough, and so flavorful. It would please vegans and meat-eaters alike!

    The only issue I had with these vegan meats was deciding how I wanted to cook them and what I wanted to enjoy them with.

    I whipped up some gravy to pair with the Vegan Breaded Chicken/Chik’n Cutlets. I added a side of slaw I had leftover in my fridge, and it was a great, filling meal! These cutlets are the perfect main dish, especially for meat-eaters incorporating more vegan food into their diets.

    Quorn Breaded Chicken Cutlets
    Quorn Vegan Breaded Chicken/Chik’n Cutlets

    And with Quorn’s Vegan Chicken/Chik’n Tenders, I put together a delicious, cheesy breakfast hash.

    Your stomach is growling now, right? No problem! My tasty hash recipe is listed below.

    Before you run out to get yourself these vegan meats, check out the store locator on the Quorn website. You can specify which products you want and locate the stores closest to you that are carrying them.

    Breakfast Hash
    Cheesy Breakfast Hash with Quorn’s Vegan Chicken/Chik’n Tenders

    Cheesy Breakfast Hash

    Serves about 2.

    Ingredients

    Hash

    • ½ of a 32 oz bag tater tots
    • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
    • ½ bag of Quorn Vegan Chicken/Chik’n Tenders
    • 2 vegan sausage patties (I used Hilary’s Apple Maple Veggie Breakfast Sausage)
    • ½ cup broccoli florets
    • ¼ cup edamame
    • ¼ cup raw cashews

    Cheese Sauce

    • 1 cup non-dairy milk
    • 1 tablespoon flour
    • ¼ cup nutritional yeast
    • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
    • ½ teaspoon onion powder
    • ¼ teaspoon salt

    Directions

    1. Preheat oven and heat tater tots according to instructions on bag.
    2. While the tots are cooking, heat oil in a large skillet. Add Quorn Vegan Chicken/Chik’n Tenders, vegan sausage, broccoli, and edamame. Cook over medium heat.
    3. When heated through, add cashews and lower heat.
    4. Meanwhile, for the cheese sauce, combine milk and flour in a small saucepan over medium heat and mix thoroughly.
    5. When sauce begins to simmer, reduce heat to low and add nutritional yeast, garlic powder, onion powder, and salt.
    6. When tater tots are finished cooking, carefully add them and the cheese sauce to the skillet and mix well. Serve hot and enjoy!

    Fall ’16 Leafleting Superstars: Part III

    Welcome to the last installment of our three-part series featuring this semester’s most prolific leafleters of Vegan Outreach’s Adopt a College Program.

    If you haven’t had a chance to check out the other top leafleters, be sure to see Part I and Part II!

    This week we’ll introduce you to the top 5 leafleters—who’ve all reached a mind-blowing number of people, and, as a result, helped a countless number of animals!

    Kimberly Moffatt, VO Outreach Coordinator

    “My favorite leafleting experience this semester was at Radford University in Radford, VA. Not only did I meet many vegetarians and vegans, but also I had a few conversations with people about the leaflets. Everyone, including staff, was super friendly and even started cheering me on throughout the day!”

    Kimberly leafleted at 77 college campuses this semester and distributed 61,692 leaflets.

    Kimberly Moffatt

    Emmanuel Márquez, VO Mexico Outreach Coordinator

    “One of my favorite moments during my leafleting tour in Mexico was when I visited the city of Guadalajara. I was invited to give a presentation at Jalisco Vegan Fest on the effectiveness of leafleting and to set up a table. The presentation went very well—the audience was engaged and was asking a lot of questions. One of the students, Lucía, later told me that she wasn’t very interested in the beginning, but ended up enjoying it.

    “After the talk, Lucía went to our table and bought a Vegan Outreach t-shirt. She also signed up as a volunteer. Three days later, Katia Rodríguez—VO Mexico Campaigns & Spanish Media Coordinator—and I were visiting a nearby high school and Lucía woke up at 5:00 am to help leaflet. Lucía is super shy, but she overcame that very fast. She told me she was inspired by what I shared in my presentation on how one person can spare many lives by doing this simple and effective activity.”

    Emmanuel leafleted at 65 college campuses this semester and distributed 40,949 leaflets.

    Emmanuel Marquez

    Sam Tucker, VO Australia & New Zealand Outreach Coordinator

    “While I was leafleting at Swinburne University of Technology near Melbourne, Australia a student stopped and asked me why I was vegan. I told him I was vegan because I was against animal cruelty. Then I asked him why he ate meat. He said he hadn’t really thought about it before. We talked for a while about how animals are treated on factory farms and how you can get all the nutrients you need without eating animals.

    “After talking for 15 minutes or so he decided he would try going vegan! He took a Guide to Cruelty-Free Eating and he also took some more leaflets to give to his friends!”

    Sam leafleted at 50 college campuses this semester and distributed 41,183 leaflets.

    Sam Tucker

    Yuri Mitzkewich, VO Southeast Outreach Coordinator

    “My favorite day of the fall semester was when I leafleted at the University of Alabama’s main campus in Tuscaloosa, AL in mid-September. Within a short amount of time, I met not only one, but three, vegans! What was great was that the third vegan who passed by, Stephanie, was an officer for the new student animal rights club, Vegan Alliance. Stephanie told me that they had five members when the group started in August and that the group had grown to an astounding 36 members in just a few short weeks! This is a great sign of a growing awareness and compassion for animals at this major southern university!

    “Thanks to Vegan Outreach being on campus that day, we helped sign up three new members for the student group, and now I’m making plans to team up with Vegan Alliance during the spring semester. Just one of many great developments I saw taking place across Alabama this fall!”

    Yuri leafleted at 88 college campuses this semester and distributed 66,522 leaflets.

    Yuri Mitzkewich

    Steve Erlsten, VO Northern California Outreach Coordinator

    “One highlight of this semester was meeting a student named James at Cal State San Bernardino. He had been vegetarian since receiving a booklet from Vegan Outreach last year. We spoke for a few minutes, and he told me he was excited to try to go vegan with the help from the Guide to Cruelty-Free Eating booklet I gave him.”

    Steve leafleted at 82 college campuses and high schools this semester and distributed 58,886 leaflets.

    Steve Erlsten

    A big round of applause to these 5 leafleters, as well as to every other member of the Adopt a College Program.

    The time and dedication everyone put into doing outreach is time well spent for the animals! We look forward to seeing you all next spring!